Archived Guestbook

To read comments by other visitors, simply scroll down.

To read earlier postings, click here for access to archived messages (March 1999 – October 2005).
Back to ListShowing 701 - 725 Of 725   

Posted On 02-03-2006 2:07 PM
Your Name: Becky Kennedy
Email Address:
Organization: Casey Family Programs
Location: San Diego
How did you find our site?: Willim Glasser
Comment: I am so delighted to see well researched and thought out arguments for what I have known in my soul.

Posted On 01-30-2006 9:43 PM
Your Name: Joe Bower
Email Address:
Organization: Red Deer Public Schools
Location: Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
How did you find our site?: Kohn's books and articles

I have eliminated grading from my classroom, and I am now looking for more ways to present student's successes and failures as information rather than as rewards and punishments. Please e-mail me with any of your ideas.

Everyone is an educator in our world; therefore, everyone should read "The Schools Our Children Deserve."


Posted On 01-22-2006 7:50 PM
Your Name: Rebecca Ruth Schultz
Email Address:
Organization: Hamilton Elementary School
Location: California
How did you find our site?: web surfing
Comment: Too many students are bored when programs are taught, instead of students being taught.

Posted On 01-21-2006 7:35 PM
Your Name: Michael P. Horn
Email Address:
Organization: Student at University of Phoenix
Location: Sanford, FL
How did you find our site?: Lesson in class
Comment: I find your ideas on reward systems being controling interesting.  I found this refreshing and it made me step back and re-evaluate my ideas on teaching.  I'm a computer technician studing to become a teacher.  I am really excited by reading your ideas on teaching and unconditional acceptance by the teacher.

Posted On 01-19-2006 10:07 AM
Your Name: Lisa L
Email Address:
Organization: Quinsigamond Community College
Location: worcester, ma
How did you find our site?: class assignment

Posted On 01-16-2006 3:35 PM
Your Name: Jill Christianson
Email Address:
Location: ND
How did you find our site?: through your books

Mr. Kohn,

I have just finished reading both 'The Schools our Children Deserve' and 'Unconditional Parenting'.  I am so glad I came across both of these books while my children are young, as it has enabled me to start with loving, effective discipline from the very beginning.  THANK YOU!

However, I wanted to correct what I believe to be a misperception stated in "Unconditional Parenting" regarding Christianity.  You state that the Bible seems to describe a 'conditional' God, who rewards good and punishes evil.  However, (and this is a big however), acceptance of Christ gets you into Heaven no matter what, regardless of past or even future misbehavior.  This belief in the ultimate demonstration of God's love makes believers WANT to follow God's laws as layed out in the Bible.  This view of Christianity I believe closely matches what you have layed out in "Unconditional Parenting" as the ideal model. 

Thank you again for two fantastic books.  I plan to bring "Unconditional Parenting" as a gift to every baby shower I attend from now on.


Posted On 01-16-2006 11:00 AM
Your Name: Sam Obenshain
Email Address:
Organization: Albuquerque Public Schools
Location: Harrison Middle School
How did you find our site?: just searched

I am anxiously awaiting this homework piece.  I know some parents in my school who would tell you that there is not a classroom in our school that sends homework home.  As the principal, however, I know that many of our teachers send homework, while many others do not. The reasons for not sending, however, have more to do with either the expectation that not much will come back, or the possibility that lessons did not go as planned and therefore the homework did not get assigned.  I'm not sure how many of the teachers have a particularly pedagogical rationale for not assigning homework.  So, I have some specific classrooms that do not assign homework, and would be happy to have a conversation with them, or ask if they would be willing to have a conversation about this.

Interestingly, at some point in our not too distant past, our staff had a conversation about the amount of homework that is appropriate for middle school students.  There is some "standard" out there that has been passed around by educators and has found its way into accepted practice or educational folklore whichever you prefer.  The standard "reads" something like this (although I haven't actually looked for it in the literature, so reads should probably read: sounds like)  .... in elementary school students should be doing a minimum of 10 minutes for each grade level that they are enrolled in (e.g., 3rd grader will be doing 30 minutes of homework a night), in middle school students should receive 30 minutes of homework for every core academic class that they have each day (e.g., math, language arts, science, social studies, foreign language = 5x30 = 150 minutes/night), in high school that sky's the limit I guess.  Have you seen or heard this type preposterous concept?  The accepted idea is that the more challenging the school/class/teacher is the one that burdens students with "bulemic learning" (binge and purge) at all times (in the classroom and at home).

  There is also a concept that is making its way into the literature and presentations regarding Differentiated Instruction work regarding homework.  The concept is that homework should ONLY be used for extra practice of concepts introduced in the classroom.  This concept has been adopted by some of our teachers, but again, many times it is not practiced with fidelity for the reasons mentioned above.

Keep it coming, and let us know how we can help!

Posted On 01-16-2006 1:42 AM
Your Name: Michelle Smith
Email Address:
Location: Victoria, Australia
How did you find our site?: search
Comment: I just wanted to say that Alfie Kohn's writing has been a bit eye opener for me!  I was reading Punished by Rewards while teaching possibly the most difficult class I have ever had (grade 3/4 composite), and set  myself into a big confusion - knowing that what I was doing was wrong, but nevertheless, not knowing what to do! I always had this inkling that something was wrong with the current accepted discipline (mostly Assertive Discipline where I am).

Well, all that has changed, and I am now able to put the theory into practice.  So thank you, Mr Kohn, and I will continue to read your books avidly, as well as those books that you recommend (I have just finished reading 'Learning to Trust' by Marilyn Watson, also really good).


Posted On 01-15-2006 6:07 PM
Your Name: Isaac Graves
Email Address:
Organization: Alternative Education Resource Organization

Your work continues to fuel inspiration, debate, and change in a world dominated by standardized learning.  Thank you.

-Isaac Graves

Alternative Education Resource Organization

Posted On 01-14-2006 11:10 AM
Your Name: Joanna Jimenez
Email Address:
Organization: student CSULA
Location: Los Angeles
How did you find our site?: recommended by a Prof.

Are you suggesting that homework is never appropriate?  Isn't some homework preparing students for college level work where every hour of class time is expected to be matched with 2 hours of homework. 

I guess elementary school children are a little young for this.


Posted On 01-08-2006 2:16 PM
Your Name: Elaine Gentile Breslin
Email Address:
Organization: Teradyne
Location: Boston
How did you find our site?: npr
Comment: I read PUNISHED BY REWARDS many years ago and have just read UNCONDITIONAL PARENTING.  I am struggling with how to share this message to every parent I know.  I just ordered the DVD because I fear my busy friends will not manage to read the book and I want to share these lessons learned very passionately ...We need to make everyone aware of the potential damage of traditional methods of discipline -- clearly not widely understood yet!  Thank you for enlightening me.

Posted On 01-04-2006 9:58 AM
Your Name: David Knowles
Email Address:
Organization: Abbey School (High Shool)
Location: Kent, England
How did you find our site?: Read 2 books/ Google

I picked up a copy of "Punished by Rewards" in US last year - have also now read "The Schools our children deserve". As I read "Punished..." my school was implementing a new system of rewards - fascinating to see, in action, all the usual mistakes about rewards being made. In UK it is assumed that constant rewards are a good idea - very few realise the problems caused.

I am currently passing "Punished..." around colleagues!

Posted On 12-21-2005 7:04 PM
Your Name: Sam Obenshain
Email Address:
Organization: Albuquerque Public Schools
Location: Harrison Middle School
How did you find our site?: just searched
Comment: Alfie Kohn is my hero!  I have been passing along his The Schools Our Deserve to everyone I come in  contact with.  I am buying a copy for my entire staff through a discount seller.  I want to make sure that I am not cutting any royalties out if I use this Barnes and Noble affiliate. Also, I want to know how much Mr. Kohn charges for a public appearance.  I'm planning on going to the talk here in Albuquerque if I can get in.  Hope it is open to the public.  Keep fighting the fight!

Posted On 12-21-2005 12:06 PM
Your Name: daniel hans
Email Address:
Organization: linksfinding
Location: alahoa
How did you find our site?: usa

Posted On 12-14-2005 7:41 AM
Your Name: Dr. George Alexakis
Email Address:
Organization: Barry University
Location: Fort Lauderdale, Florida
How did you find our site?: Searched for Dr. Kohn's

I am looking for an article that discusses the ills of testing (not standardized testing). Quizes, tests, midterm examinations, final exams, etc. are probably the poorest methods of effectively evaluating students' learning. Please let me where I can find an article on this.

George Alexakis, Ed.D.

Posted On 12-07-2005 7:59 PM
Your Name: Patti
Organization: The Grauer School
Location: Encinitas
How did you find our site?: google
Comment: I read Punished by Rewards shortly after my children were born and it helped guide me through their early years with much fewer conflicts than I saw around me. Now teens, my children are motivated, curious, enthusiastic, cooperative (mostly), and are not afraid to share opinions and stand their ground if we disagree. I recently viewed your new DVD and found so much of the wonderful information from Punished by Rewards in a format all parents and kids can appreciate and embrace. I plan to take some time during the upcoming holiday break to share the experience with my children as I know they will hear some of your words and understand how my language with them came to be. I am sure they will also call me to the mat when they remember my missteps along the way. Thank you for offering the community an essential resource. I will be sending it along to several friends for the holidays.

Posted On 11-29-2005 11:22 AM
Your Name: Johnny
Email Address:
Organization: KTH- STH
Location: Stockholm
How did you find our site?: Googled.
Comment: Check this out:

A quote from the text:

"He [a guy they interviewed] thinks the main cause of all the questionable behaviour is the increasing pressure that scientists are under as they compete to publish papers and win grants. 'We need to think about the working conditions in science that can be addressed,' he says, suggesting better salaries and employment conditions for young scientists, and a more transparent peer-review process."

Competition corrodes science, I guess you already knew that.

You are one of my idols, keep up the good work!

Best Regards

Posted On 11-26-2005 6:13 PM
Your Name: Julie Hallenbeck
Email Address:
Organization: St Vrain Valley Schools
Location: Colorado
How did you find our site?: I read Alfie's articles, etc.

I teach at the high school level in Erie, Colorado.  Just recently, I was sent to a training session intended for reading specialists, K-12.  Our coordinator brought in an outside trainer who presented a seven hour long lesson on teaching mulit-syllabic words.  In looking at the handouts, I noticed they were from the NCRF, or National Center for Reading First.  Of course, I took it upon myself to explore Reading First and found it to be a huge part of NCLB.  I am looking for any information you have on Reading First, especially opinions of informed teachers/educators.  I did not get a good feeling during the training, as the process seemed so "teacher proofed".  As time went on that day, I decided it certainly was not very worthwhile for a 9-12 teacher and eventually found out (through my own exploration) that it is targeted for K-3 educators.  I was infuriated, to say the least, at having been made to miss my classes at school and attend such an ineffectual workshop for my grade level.  Just wondering if anyone out there uses it and what you think?

Posted On 11-20-2005 12:49 PM
Your Name: Dr. Yvonne Siu-Runyan, Professor Emerita
Email Address:
Organization: CELT, IRA, NCTE
Comment: Keep doing what you are doing. Punished by Rewards is brilliant. Continue getting the word out there. Movements like NCLB Act and the high-stakes testing frenzy really leave students behind. I keep talking about the necessity of focusing on learning and not teaching or testing, that focusing on student learning guides teaching and produces better results. But alas, so many don't understand that testing actually limits learning, and focusing one's efforts solely on teaching, instead of learning also has dimishing returns. Dr. YSR

Posted On 11-18-2005 1:19 PM
Your Name: D. Beales
Email Address:
Location: Lowell, MA
How did you find our site?: curiosity after reading

Mr. Kohn is absolutely right about the human drive for learning.  Children allowed to choose their own interests and to participate in learning at will in non-competitive environments often excel.  I’ve experienced this as a Children’s Librarian in a public library, where I encountered thousands of kids choosing their own learning interests and reveling in the process, versus teaching in what was considered a “progressive” charter school (an Essential school), where apathy and contempt on the part of students was the norm.  I’ve struggled for quite some time to define what the fundamental difference between my two experiences was and have concluded the following.


One of the largest impediments to change in the current school system is that it’s a “captive audience environment.”  Children don’t choose to attend; they don’t choose what they will learn; their *very participation* is extrinsically imposed.  It’s not just the rewards and punishments meted out within the school that are extrinsic.  It’s that the very attendance is in essence a punishment, “Do this or you (or your parents) will go to jail.”   I haven’t seen this idea in “Punished by Rewards,” but perhaps it’s addressed elsewhere in Mr. Kohn’s writings.


The result?  The Zimbardo experiment comes to mind, in which students were randomly assigned to play prisoners or guards in a “prison,” and assumed the roles so completely and swiftly that the experiment had to be halted for fear of acute psychological damage to participants and actual physical violence.  Substitute ‘student’ and ‘teacher’ for ‘prisoner’ and ‘guard’ and you have a captive audience dynamic which forces both participants to enact prescribed and deleterious roles, with, sadly, not dissimilar outcomes from those of Zimbardo.  Think Columbine.  Think Paducah.  Never mind—think your local school system, where the problems of apathy and violence are really no different from the headline-grabbers but usually aren’t as sensational.


So what’s the solution?  I don’t know.  Our whole society is predicated on extrinsically driven systems, yet ironically worships rugged individualism.  There is a profound disconnect.  I can identify it, but I can’t solve it.


Like Mr. Kohn so succinctly does in all of his salient points, all I can do is challenge a so-called “given”—that all children must attend school yet have no real choice in what they will learn--  for public discourse.  The Essential school movement touts self-directed learning, but my real-world experience of such a school, anecdotal though it is, shows me that students saw through the sham of self-direction right to the core of the matter—that they were institutionalized by law.


There has to be a better way.  I wish I knew what it was.

Posted On 11-10-2005 10:08 AM
Your Name: Alan Chipetine
Email Address:

Existential Education
     In Ernest Becker’s 1973 Nobel Prize winning book, The Denial of Death, he conceived of an integral approach to education when he mused, “I have had the growing realization over the past few years that the problem of man’s knowledge is not to oppose and to demolish opposing views, but to include them in a larger theoretical structure”. (xi) Becker saw society as the “stage” for human beings to create heroic meaning in life by following the agreed upon social mythology of their culture. This heroic meaning is the salvation for man’s need to repress his fundamental fear of death and meaninglessness. In academia, we seek our heroics, and hence meaning in life, by trying to exalt our tiny and often trivial discoveries of empirical truth. In our postmodern academic environment, narcissism and “value free” research still prevail. We are taught to reduce, dissect, and destroy the arguments of others’ views in order to give our small slice of truth hegemony in our field of study. We are trained to look at minute phenomena, study it empirically, reduce it further, and proclaim from the top of the mountain that we have discovered the Rosetta Stone. “Today we know that people try so hard to win converts for their point of view because it is more than merely an outlook on life: it is an immortality formula”. (255) Becker again sounded the alarm for a more integral approach to our education system. “But each honest thinker who is basically an empiricist has to have some truth in his position, no matter how extremely he has formulated it. The problem is to find the truth underneath the exaggeration, to cut away the excess elaboration or distortion and include that truth where it fits.” (xi) It takes a person of great courage to stand upon his own feet, risk the ostracization from society (or his academic department), and point to the taboos and insanities of the agreed upon social structure. To challenge an existing vMeme, to dare to tell people they are looking at shadows reflected upon a cave wall, is to risk being stoned to death with the foundation stones of our Universities fictitious belief systems and erroneous paradigms....

Posted On 11-04-2005 5:19 AM
Your Name: Rajesh Santhanam
Email Address:
Organization: The Daly College
Location: Indore, Central India
How did you find our site?: Through the GOOGLE search engine

Dear Mr. Kohn,

I came to know your work  a few years ago when I 'discovered' your book titled "Punished by Rewards" in the library.The title intrigued me as I always thought that rewards for good academic performance, good behaviour reinforced "good" behaviour. I thought the book freakish and dismissed it.

Last year I became seriously involved in with Experiential Learning and started experimenting with community service as a means of learning through direct participation and reflecting on one's experiences. In the process, a few children of my school became involved and soon a small but dedicated team of young, idealistic students, between the ages  15 to 17, was deeply enquiring into what community service meant to them and started a few genuine community out-reach programmes.

 The students were from the upper crust of the Indian society and at the, local Destitute Center of the Mother Teresa Missionaries of Charity,  had a first-hand experience of the misery and appalling living conditions of the poor of India. One girl, we will call her Gita, was deeply moved by the experience and decided to do something about it. She spoke passionately about the need to do something for the inmates of the Destitute Center. She then spear-headed a used-clothes collection campaign motivating the school children, parents and staff to give generously. The campaign was a run-away success and thousands of clothes were collected and distributed to the poor and destitute. 

She was inspired by the success and, with constant support from me, initiated a fund-raising programme for rehabilitation of a school devastated by the 26th December 2004 Tsunami, which hit the south-eastern coast of India. The effort resulted in the collection of Rs. 500,000, which was a substantial amount, by Indian standards. With the money collected, we set out on a service expedition and with the help of the local village community, re-built the school. The work was completed in record-time under very difficult conditions of the hot, humid Indian summer.

The Team came back tired but with a sense of accomplishment. None of us spoke to the press but word leaked out and soon our story appeared in the local  press. Our photographs were splashed on the front page in the local dailies. We were heroes! We were awarded special citations by the school and district authorities. I was personally happy and glad that our good work was recognised and thought, rather naively, that this will augur well for the community.

Looking back now, how wrong I was! Suddenly, social work became a very glamorous thing in school and every Tom, Dick and Harry wanted to have a piece of the action. The student leader Gita becme very famous. The school decided to honour her by selecting her as the student representative for the school and sent her to Australia for attending an international conference. It was the same story there too.

Gita came back home with her head full of her own glory. She was made the Head Prefect of the school and presented before guests and dignitaries visiting the school. She had no time for good old community service but spoke of the virtues of social work to students during gatherings.

I realised that we had destroyed a wonderful human being even before she could fully bloom into a complete person.

Today, anybody who turns up for community service wants to become another 'Gita'. What started as a noble venture has become trapped in its own success.

It then struck me that some book spoke along the same lines and I remembered "Punished by Rewards" I had read years ago. Your book has come back to haunt me.

Do you want to know what Gita wants to become in the future? A politician!

I'll never forget your book!




Posted On 11-01-2005 2:04 PM
Your Name: Jon Morgan-Wilson
Email Address:
Organization: Azusa Pacific University
Location: Murrieta, California
How did you find our site?: Teacher Education Program APU

Hello Alfie,

I enjoyed reading your book "The Schools Our Choldren Deserve" as part of my class assignment.  I am giving a presentation along with four other students on the topics you raise.

Keep up the good work!  I have seen your work mentioned several times regarding discipline and curriculumn.  Your sense of "withitness" is inspiring whe next generation of educators at APU!

Posted On 10-31-2005 1:37 PM
Your Name: Eulogio Alejandre
Email Address:
Organization: Ogden High School
Location: Ogden, Utah
How did you find our site?: Presentation at NABE 2005

Please keep talking about the unfair fixation on testing and grades.  I think it is simply an attempt to implement a class system in the U.S.  I enjoy your articles and speeches.

E. Alejandre

Posted On 10-26-2005 3:16 PM
Your Name: Cathryn Campbell
Email Address:
How did you find our site?: Friend
Comment: This is a beautiful and very informative web site.  Great job!


home | books | articles | A/V | schedule | topics | bio | guestbook | contact us | standards and testing | business -- © Alfie Kohn